Sunday, June 30, 2013

Independence Day and the Ghost of Betsy Ross!

From the archives, but a fun tradition!

Have you seen her?

She visits our family every year.....

If you are a lover of American History, you probably know that Besty Ross was born on New Years Day in 1752 in Philadelphia, PA. She is most well known for creating the banner that Americans pay respect and honor to (hopefully), our great Stars and Stripes, the great American Flag. If you are not a history buff, well, hopefully you can add this little piece of American history to your knowledge bank.

For me and my family, Betsy Ross has played an integral part of our celebration of Independence Day, the 4th of July. This particular holiday is the one time of year that my sisters and I, our families, and our parents are all together...all 15 of us. We spend it crammed into my parent's 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom mountain cabin. It is a cozy 7 days, but full of lots of celebration.

The Ghost of Betsy Ross as been a huge part of our festivities for the last 15 years when she first left a patriotic themed gift for each of the children after they each helped place an American flag in the yard of the cabin.(One of the kids speculated it was her she has returned every year since.) Each year the kids have looked forward to decorating the yard as patriotically as they can, and seeing if Betsy Ross will return again. Sure enough, from the morning after the flags go up to the morning of the 4th, she has left them mementos that help them display their love of country and respect of the flag.

I understand that this is not the most traditional way to celebrate, and may even draw some criticism from some for associating gifts with patriotism. But the way I see it is this:

America is a great country. It is far from perfect and like every other country on this planet can always improve. But, it also is a country that through the voice and hard work of the people and the guidance of great leaders, continually strives and is dedicated to overcoming injustice and ensuring equality of all people. In essence as Americans, we are given the gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a benefit of our patriotism - I say gifts because of the many women and men that gave their lives to ensure us these things. And what may be even more amazing, is that for those that live in this great country that are against what America is built upon...they are granted grace, and receive the same gifts.

I think that The Ghost of Betsy Ross has taught the children of the family a great appreciation for this Great Country. Untraditional as it may be, this way of celebrating has shown them the gift that they have by simply being able to call America home. Even as my children are venturing out into the world on their own - two are now adults, this tradition is close to their hearts and has deepened their appreciation for what it means to have the freedoms they have.

What Independence Day traditions do you have? 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Easy Coffee Can Dye Shirt

Easy Coffee Can Dye Shirt

Here is a fun and easy patriotic crafting project just in time for the 4th of July! With a few supplies and a few bits of time, you can create unique and fun designs to put some sparkle into your summer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

White cotton or cotton-blend tank
Red and Blue liquid dye
A coffee can
Rubber band
White acrylic paint
Fabric medium
Crystal or crystal look embellishments.

Here’s how you do it:

1.Wet the shirt and wring it out. Lay it flat and begin folding the shirt into a long rectangle, keeping in mind that the parts of the shirt that will take the most color on are the parts closest to the dye. Roll the rectangle into a log that narrow enough to fit into the coffee can with about an inch of room all the way around. Secure with a rubber band in the center of the log.

2.Mix the lighter (red) dye according to the package directions and fill the can about half way- keeping in mind the height of your rolled shirt. (The dye should reach up to about half of the height of the log when it is in the dye.)

3.Stand the log on end in the coffee can. The dye should reach about halfway up the shirt. Let it sit for about an hour. Go grab a cup of coffee, run an errand, catch up on your great summer read.

4.Carefully remove the shirt from the dye. Leaving the shirt rolled, run the log under hot water, letting the water run from the top of the un-dyed end through the bottom of the dyed end. Continue until the water runs pretty clear. Squeeze any excess water out and repeat steps 2-4 with the  darker (blue) dye.

5.Unrole the shirt and rinse in hot soapy water until water runs clear. Let it dry.  

6. Mix 2 parts white acrylic pain with 1 part fabric medium.

7. Lie shirt flat with a barrier layer between the front and back of the shirt. Stencil on stars in desired pattern.

8. Embellish tips of stars with crystals if desired. Enjoy!!

ALWAYS handwash this project separately. It may bleed to other fabrics if washed together.

The tighter the shirt is rolled, the lighter the interior of the roll will be. Looser it is rolled, the more colorful the interior. 

You may want to wear plastic gloves while doing this project. Dye may stain your hands.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Queendom For Some Sleep! (A Bit of Reflection and A SleepNumber M7 Review)

Do you remember being a kid and hating that you had to go to bed?  It seemed like such a punishment to have to leave the day, leave the action, leave what ever it was you were doing to have to go to  bed.

Do you remember being a teen and having your "bedtime" made later or even lifted? It seemed like such freedom to hang you in your room (of course reading or doing something productive...) till when ever you were tired enough to go to sleep.

Do you remember being a young adult and having the freedom and the fun of staying up or out all night?  Enjoying the nightlife with the after 10 crowd - that was appealing.  Living for the the late nights and the long weekends was the norm.

And then the day came when you could care less about the Night Owl lifestyle. Instead of craving time with friends and fun, instead of trading snoozing for the party scene, instead of trading dreamland for danceland, you'd trade your queendom for a good nights sleep.

When exactly does that transition happen?

Maybe it's the day that we realize that we are on our own and completely responsible for ourselves.  Or, maybe it's the day that we become parents and lose sleep not of our own accord, but because the little one in our house is not sleeping.  Perhaps, it is a certain age that our body just screams STOP and sleep.

I do know that for myself, I transitioned to that place long, long ago. But there was a crazy irony - as soon as I wanted sleep, I couldn't get it.  Work and worry, babies and body aches, traveling husband and teething toddlers, middle-schoolers and mood swings, teens and tumult, college age kids and college sized costs, did enough to keep me awake at night. I wanted and needed a soft place comfy place to lay my head down and slumber peacefully by Mr. Mom of Many Hats side.

But, alas, I found myself like the princess who had the pea under her mattress. Mr. MMH and I had very different ideas of what comfort was. While he slept like a rock, I would wake up feeling like I had slept on rocks.  The few short hours that I was getting each night rested my brain a bit, but not my body.  That comfy place of peaceful slumber passed me by.

SLEEP... I NEEDED SLEEP! And so did he.

Many years ago when we were trying to remedy the sleep inequality in our house, we came across the SleepNumber Brand.  We visited a showroom and tried out the pillow top and memory foam models.  We opted for the pillow top with dual air chambers.  This awesome bed allowed us to each set the perfect amount of firmness for our individual comfort.  Sleeping changed for me.  I was actually getting sleep (although I still should force myself to sleep more hours, but that's another post), and good sleep at that.  It was a Win/Win for both myself and my husband. 

When SleepNumber asked me to review the new P5 or M7 model of the SleepNumber bed, I was more M7 (Memory Foam Series) and see how well it worked for me and my sleep needs. 
Since I had preferred the "P" models years ago, I decided to try the "M" model. I was more than happy to take it for a test sleep!

I slept on the M7 for 7 nights in a row.  In that time, I did my normal daily routines that included all the stresses and strains of daily life and parenting, surviving in the AZ heat, and some pretty tough running, climbing and weight lifting workouts. With the exception of the first night (the newness of sleeping in a different bed), I slept through the night soundly and comfortably.  I had worried that the memory foam would trap heat and would keep me too warm. But the cooling gel technology conformed and supported me (without swallowing me up!) but kept me at a comfortable temp. I was particularly impressed on the third night's sleep when I had done a 4 mile run AND 2.5 hours of hard climbing at the gym.  I adjusted the bed (my sleep number) a bit higher for additional support and woke up with my joints feeling good.

I've recorded much of the process and review in the video below.

When it comes to sleep, we should all know that the CDC recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults.  We should also know that our bedding from case to mattress can affect how well we sleep.  Interestingly enough, Mayo Clinic shares the importance of comfort in its tips for a better nights sleep.  But for you and me, as moms or dads, parents or just tired adults, we may not always admit it, but we know we should manage our sleep.  Our queendoms and kingdoms run much smoother when we are well rested!

*Sleep Number (SelectComfort) provided the reviewer the M7 product in exchange for a review. The review is not to be considered a recommendation for you and your personal needs but rather it is an opinion based on the reviewer's observations and experience. Opinions reflected are those of the reviewer alone and are not influenced by the relationship to the provider of the product.